Friday, March 31, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (or Broads)" Edition

From 1972, please enjoy the late great Michael Nesmith and his fabulous psychedelic-country rock reimagining of the venerable "Bonaparte's Retreat."

The song title derives from a wordless fiddle tune dating back at least to the 1800s, although Nesmith's version is a cover of a 1949 country hit by Pee Wee King.

In any case, the Nes record is perhaps my all time favorite of his post-Monkees musical efforts. The swirling 12-string and pedal steel instrumental sections between the choruses could easily have been done by some San Francisco ballroom band of the late 60s -- Moby Grape, anyone? Whatever, it's a great performance.

And now to business. To wit:

...and the best or worst rock (or related genre) song referencing a real life person by name in the title or lyrics is...?


Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Faites L'amour, Pas La Guerre

From his 1896 album, please enjoy friend of PowerPop (and moi) Peter Spencer and his droll and strangely touching ode to history's greatest backstreet crawler -- "Casanova's Waltz."

In the meantime, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who intuits its relevance to the theme of tomorrow's weekend essay question.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Mr. Ocasek's Neighborhood

Last Thursday would have been Ric Ocasek's 78th birthday. In his honor, here's my second favorite song by the band he visually exemplified. (Take a guess what my first favorite is, won't you?).

Apart from the fabulous music he made, Ocasek's always been an icon for me because back in the day he was the rock star that I most often used to see on the street. In my Village period, he and his gorgeous wife Paulina were among the most recognizable denizens of the neighborhood, after Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, and Ric did it without the gimmick of wandering around in a bathrobe and slippers. Seriously, hardly a week went by when it wasn't like "Oh, there's Ric getting groceries at Jefferson Market," or "there's Ric in my local video store"; it was just one of the perks of living in the Village.

In any case, I don't have to tell you that "My Best Friend's Girl" is one of the great singles of its era. What I am here to tell you -- and I've been saying it for years -- is that (IMHO) one of these days some smart country band is gonna cover it and have a huuuuge hit.

I don't know who that band might be, but since these guys are apparently still around, and because I love this song of theirs (which has certain vague stylistic resesmblances to The Cars, again IMHO), I nominate them.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Où Sont Les Nuggets D’antan

Attentive readers are aware of my enthusiasm for the series of benefit/tribute/all-star concerts sposored and performed by LA's Wild Honey Orchestra in recent years. This one in honor of the Lovin' Spoonful, for example.

But this forthcoming one -- well, words fail me. A 50th anniversary show celebrating the release of Lenny Kaye's groundbreaking 1972 double-LP anthology of 60s garage/psych/proto-punk rock Nuggets.

[Click to expand the images for more info].

I vividly recall the day the original album first crosssed my desk at the Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review; I was like a kid in a candy store, although I was surprised at how many of the songs were unfamiliar to me (i.e., apparently hadn't gotten much airplay in the NYC area). In any event, the sound (on a lot of the ones I was familiar with) was way better than I expected, and Kaye's liner notes struck just the right balance between scholarship and fan gush. Bottom line -- a great compilation, and let's face it: Nuggets is the only album in rock history that's come to represent an entire genre.

Alas, there's no way I can attend the show, but for the rest of you guys -- if you're gonna be anywhere near LA in late May, get your tickets now! It's for a good cause! One of the guitarists from the original Love is gonna be there! A bassist for both The Leaves and The Turtles too! And the lead singer of The Chocolate Watchband as well? Jeebus -- what are you waiting for?

Monday, March 27, 2023

Great Lost Songs of the Sixties (An Occasional Series): Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Okay, I've posted about this song -- "Only Pretty (What a Pity)," the Lovin' Spoonful's late (1967) pop/psych masterpiece -- on a couple of occasions over the years(!), but I chanced across it the other day, and was blown away anew.

I've always liked it, of course, for lots of reasons, beginning with the fact that thematically it's an astoundingly dark and worldly wise song for a band pigeonholed as a purveyor of good time music. For another thing, it's structurally really quite clever; verse, chorus, verse, chorus, a bridge in a different tempo that seems to come out of nowhere, and then a final chorus, the kicker being that all the choruses have different lyrics and the Author's Message title phrase doesn't appear until the very end of the song. Plus it's gloriously melodic and gorgeously sung, and if you listen carefully to the very end of the fade-out, there are some really phenomenal sort of modal guitar licks being dispensed.

Eyes to look at, not to see through
She never could see truth for lies
With a smile she'd win us over
Face a trick to take a prize

Tickled pink the mid-aged dandy
Sold his horse to buy her all
The icing for her face like candy
Hung up the mirrors wall to wall

Married life was short but funny
With long lost cousins dropping by
Later on her alimony
Paid for young men's gentle lies

By the window hangs a mirror
Where she hides her sagging chin
Now sadly as she crouches nearer
Never seeing past her skin

"Mommy said, when you were younger
'The face you made would stay that way'
That's all true and if you doubt it
Reflect upon yourself today"

Everyone except the baby
Answers for the face they wear
As a mask of pure contentment
Or a mask of pure despair

Only pretty, what a pity...

As I said, I've always liked it, and the second verse, in particular, is absolutely brilliant -- in four concise poetic lines, writers Joe Butler and Jerry Yester manage to tell you everything you need to know about the arc of the sad, spoiled life of a vain and shallow woman; you can practically see her, her foolish monied husband (the earlier chorus bit about selling his horse is especially nice), and the house they lived in (on Fifth Avenue, if I'm any judge) before she dumped him and turned into a not so gay divorcee.

I must confess, however, that I hadn't understood one crucial part of it until I read the lyrics on-line. That aforementioned bridge, where the vocal goes all robotic, is very hard to make out, but as you can see above it's the voice of Only Pretty's mirror giving her the naked truth; that sound of glass breaking at the end is her smashing it rather than confront herself.

Meanwhile, because I love you all more than food, here's a live clip of the Spoonful doing the song on the Ed Sullivan show.

I should add that I had the privilege of chatting with Joe Butler a few years ago, and he completely did not remember doing the song on TV. He did, however, confirm my suspicion that the song was written about somebody the guys in the Spoonful actually knew.

Friday, March 24, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "The Thing With Feathers" Edition

From 1967, please enjoy The Byrds performing (IMHO) David Crosby's masterpiece "Lady Friend."

That was a single in its day, and I wore out my 45 copy of it in the expectation that it would appear on the next Byrds album in stereo. Alas, that was when they kicked Crosby out of the band, and when the album -- The Notorious Byrds Brothers -- did finally come out, they omitted the single (and replaced Crosby in the album cover photo with a horse). I should add that the version heard in the video was first releaed on a 1987 comp of Byrds rarirties and remixes (Never Before), and Crosby insisted on replacing Mike Clarke's original drum part with the work of the guy in his then touring band.

But now to business. To wit...

The 1965 photo of The Byrds above represents the definitive exemplar of what a rock band should look like -- yes or no. And the absolute worst look for a rock band ever is...?


Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Les Cœurs Perdus

From right here right now, please enjoy "Hate Yourself," the kick-posterior new single by Nashville rockers Lost Hearts.

I haven't quite figured out exactly how to categorize these guys -- rock? punk? glam? retro '80s? some organic mix of all of the preceding? -- and whatever they're doing is not usually my cup of pekoe. But for some reason, I found the above highly entertaining, probably because I just like their attitude. Which I guess makes it rock 'n' roll, right?

I should add that I am reliably informed that the band formed when four lead guitar players got together and they flipped a coin (heh) to see who would sing and play the drums and bass. Makes sense to me!

In any case, it's a very cool single (and video -- I want the front guy's black Les Paul gold top, BTW); they don't have an album yet, but as they get closer to one I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded the first reader who gleans the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's weekend essay question.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Closed for Computer-Related Monkey Business

We should be up and running before too long, but in the meantime our apologies.

Have no fear, however -- I'll be posting new music by a new band (on Thursday) in anticipation of the following day's weekend essay quewtion.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me

Simels Rules -- anything with a gorilla suit is funny.

Actual new music posting resumes on the morrow.

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Torch Has Been Passed to a New Generation of Power Poppers

From earlier this year at SXSW in Austin, pleae enjoy The Zombies' classic "Care of Cell 44" in a once in a lifetime performance by legendary Zombies lead singer Colin Blunstone and youngsters Brian and Michael D'Addario of The Lemon Twigs.

Attentive readers are aware that I'm not completely objective about those kids, due to the fact that their parents are both musicians I've known (and occasionally worked with) since forever; their dad Ronnie, whose own music is terrific (you can hear more of it over HERE) is actually a sort of auxilliary Floor Model, fer cryin' out loud.

That said, here's the third single from their forthcoming (in May) self-produced album Harmony Forever...

...and I think you'll admit that's pretty darned impressive stuff, a certain amount of what SPY magazine referred to as "logrolling in our time" notwithstanding. (I love that 12-string solo, BTW.) Meanwhile, you can pre-order the new album (what are you waiting for?) at Amazon HERE. And yes, there's a vinyl version.

Friday, March 17, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "Ferry Cross the East River” Edition

From his splendid (just released) album A Big Life, please enjoy veteran pop/rock/guitar whiz Ed Ryan and his utterly addictive kick-ass confection "Settle Down."

Ed is an alumnus of the NYC music scene/explosion of the original CBGBs era; he was in at least two bands -- Day Old Bread and The Rudies -- that I'm pretty sure I saw back in my Bowery days. That new song above, to my ears, has a fabulous early Beatles vibe to it -- the verses sound like "Misery," n'est-ce pas? -- but then it veers off into a whole other more modern thing, and those chiming guitar figures at the end just kill me; if any of you guys can identify a specific record, by anybody, Ed's paying homage to there I'd be forever in your debt.

In the meantime, you can -- and very definitely should -- order A Big Life over at Kool Kat Muzik. You'll thank me.

But now on to business. To wit:

...and the rock band who made the most subtle or inventive use of their Beatles influences is/was...?


And have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Jingle Jangle Morning Melodies

From 1990, please enjoy veteran alt-rockers The Connells and their haunting exhortation to "Get a Gun."

Those guys hailed from Raleigh, N.C. and if they're still down there, my sympathies; in any case, with the usual personnel changes over the years, they're still at it, and good for 'em. I should add that I was lucky enough to see them in a small club when they were touring that album (it was their foourth) and they killed, albeit in a sort of magisterial way. The album itself, which is still available, can be acquired over at Amazon HERE and is highly recommended.

Meanwhile, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the track's relevance to the theme of tomorrows Weekend Essay Question.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

That's Ms. Wiliams If You're Nasty

And speaking as we were Monday of the incomparable Lucinda Williams, it struck me in retrospect that it was an error (and a downright cruel one at that) not to have included some music in the post.

So, from 1989 and the Rough Trade album in question, here's Lucinda and her simultaneously tear-duct stimulating and droll paean to "Passionate Kisses."

I bring this up because an old high school chum of mine recently informed me that an ex of his -- a Williams fan, 'natch -- used to refer to the song as...wait for it...

"Passionate Fishes."


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

It's Weasels Time

From their 2014 album Blame the Victim, please enjoy my old garage band chums The Weasels and their darkly insinuating ode to a "Fine Time."

That was written and sung by our keyboard guy Glenn Leeds (who also did the drum programming); acoustic guitar is by (Jai Guru Dave) Hawxwell; Allan Weissman is on the bass; and some asshole whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels is on all the vaguely Keith Richards-ish electrics.

And in case you're wondering why I'm posting it -- hey, it was a slow day yesterday.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Video Killed the Magazine Star?

From the March 1989 issue of Stereo Review, here are my thoughts on Lucinda Williams' debut on Rough Trade. As you'll discover at the bottom of the post, I have a good reason for bringing it to your attention.
The first time I played the new Lucinda Williams album, I started to think about my late colleague Noel Coppage. Noel used to keep a list in these pages of what he called "Real People," an appellation that had nothing whatsoever to do with the early-Eighties TV show; instead, he was talking about performers, specifically musicians. To my knowledge, Noel never heard Lucinda Williams, although she's knocked around for over a decade, but if he had, or if he'd lived to hear her remarkable eponymous debut album, I'm sure he would have added Williams to his small, select list. This woman is as real as it gets.

The idiom here is basic rock, country, and blues. The songs, all written by Williams, except for one by Howlin' Wolf, are anecdotal, sharply observed, and by turns wry and poignant. But what makes them really special (not to discount the fine performances by her obviously simpatico band) is Williams herself: She has the kind of voice that suggests the rise and fall of empires as witnessed through the bottom of a shot glass. It's an instrument worthy of the Bonnie Raitt comparisons it most often draws, but there's an edge to Williams's singing, a raw, wounded, and utterly soulful quality, that also suggests a male honkytonker like Gram Parsons. As a result, Williams really doesn't sound like any other woman rocker currently working, and listening to her album was an experience that hit me about as hard as falling in love.

There are moments in Lucinda Williams that verge on the merely ordinary. "Crescent City," for example, rocks along quite nicely and is obviously felt, but it's a fairly prosaic reminiscence nonetheless. Mostly, though, the music will make you laugh ("Changed the Locks") or break your heart ("Abandoned"), sometimes both in the same song ("Passionate Kisses"). Even in an era when it's suddenly, suspiciously, fashionable to be a smart solo woman in rock, Lucinda Williams is clearly something special, and I suggest you hear it immediately. Meanwhile, Noel, I think we've got another Real Person here.

As I said up top, I have a good reason for foisting the above on you.

To wit: Late last week, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from an associate producer at CBS Sunday Morning who wanted to know if I in fact had written the line "She has the kind of voice that suggests the rise and fall of empires as witnessed through the bottom of a shot glass."

Because they were working on an upcoming profile of Williams, and they were thinking of quoting me on air. Ain't that a kick in the pants?

Anyway, he assured me he'd let me know if, in fact, my little bon mot made the cut (the segment is due to run in a couple of weeks). And of course, I'll let you guys know as well.

Can you tell I'm insufferably pleased about this?

Friday, March 10, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "Tales From the Great White North" Edition

From 1972, please enjoy Canadian power pop greats The Wackers and their scintillatingly Beatle-esque shoulda-been-a-hit "I Hardly Know Her Name."

That's from the band's second album, which is one of the great lost exemplars of its genre; certainly, it's as good as anything, say, The Raspberries did around the same time. I should add that another track from Hot Wacks, a gorgeous cover of John Lennon's "Oh My Love" (that is one of to my knowledge only two rock songs ever featuring a lead guitar part played on a Japanese koto) is one of my all time fave things ever. Oh hell, hear it for yourself.

I should also add that Wackers founding member Bob Seagarini went on to a long and successful career as a deejay on Canadian radio; he also had a show on Sirius XM for a while, and apparently is still active in the field.

But now to business. To wit...

...and the most interesting rock band to hail from a non-English speaking country is...?

Discuss. (Okay, I'm having a little joke at the expense of our northern neighbors. So sue me.)

Meanwhile, have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, March 09, 2023

The Tearaways (Part Deux): Samedi Tous les Jours

As I promised Monday, here's the official video to the second single from the forthcoming album by The Tearaways. Featuring Clem Burke (natch) on drums.

If that doesn't make you grin and/or bounce in yout seat, you really need to have it looked at.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

From upstate New York in 1967, please enjoy a genuine honest to god old fashioned Battle of the Bands.

If you're of a certain age, that's beyond Proustian, obviously.

I should add that I discovered that clip at YouTube purely by chance the other day, and that it seems to have been shot by somebody who worked at a local NBC affiliate, which probably explains the near professional quality of the video.

I should also add that the band doing the two Blues Project songs sounds impresively just like the real thing. Although my fave performance is by the group with the kid drummer who looks like Beaver Cleaver.

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Altamont (The Song)

Sing to the tune of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock."

I came upon this junkie creep, he was walking along the road/ I asked him where he was going, this he told me

I'm going down to Altamont, gonna sleep under the stars/ Rip tape decks out of cars/ And try to get into the show free

We are nitwits, we are bozos/ And I got to be at work on Monday

Oh can I walk beside you Because I have some stuff to sell/ Though it has a funny smell/ Cause it's been cut with horsecrap

Maybe I'll meet a man there I'll be yin and he'll be yang/ I could dig a 9-inch wang/ I won't tell him I got the clap from David Crosby

We are nitwits, we are bozos/ And I got to be at work on Monday

By the time I got to Altamont Not a campsite to be seen/ So I slept in the latrine/ The guy next to me was snoring

I dreamed I saw the bikers there/ With their chrome work bright and new/ Beating hippies with pool cues/ Cause they thought the show was boring

We are nitwits, we are bozos/ And I got to be at work again on Monday

That was written by an old friend (and producer/enginer of much of the Floor Models' stuff) Marc Moss; Gerry Devine, the singer from the Flo Mos, used to perform it to great effect at various folk clubs in Greenwich Village back in the day.

In any case, I think it's one of the funniest parodies of a sacred cow I've ever heard. Kudos, Marc.

Monday, March 06, 2023

The Tearaways Explain It All to You

Any Band Featuring Blondie Drummer Clem Burke is Automatically Worth Hearing!

Case in point: The Tearaways, featuring the aforementioned Burke, and who are seen below ripping it up in honor of three earlier drum greats.

So -- who are these guys, anyway?

Well, the short version is that they're a bunch of mostly Californian Brit Invasion/Power Pop-influenced vets who, at various times and in various line-ups, have been making great music (like the above) since the early '80s. In their most recent incarnation, they've toured all over, in preparation for...oh, just making a great new album -- produced by pesonal hero of mine Ed Stasium (Ramones, Talking Heads, Smithereens), and featuring guest keyboard wiz Benmont Tench -- which drops momentarily. I should add that the band's instantly addictive new single "Saturday Everyday" derives from same, and definitely behooves behearing.

The actual, official video of said single will be available for public consumption on Wednesday; I'll post it then and I guarantee you'll thank me.

In the meantime, you can find out more about The Tearaways over at their official website HERE.

Friday, March 03, 2023

La Fin de la Semaine Essay Question: Special "There is Nothing Like a Dame" Edition

From 1980, please enjoy Wisconsin power pop sensations The Shivvers and a killer live version of their cult hit "Teen Line."

I discovered these guys well after the fact -- I think a reader turned me on to them circa 2012 -- but when I first heard them I fell really hard. God only knows why they're not household words, but singer Jill Kossoris has one of those voices that apparently I was genetically bred to dig; it's the sort of nasal white suburban early Sixties Top 40 sound you hear on records like Diane Renay's "Navy Blue." In any case, the band broke up in 1982, without achieving the success they clearly deserved; Kossoris seems to have made an album in Nashville in 2000 (which I haven't heard) and there's an after the fact CD collecting everything they ever recorded which you can get at Amazon OVER HERE.

But now to business. To wit...

...and the most interesting pop/rock band ever fronted by a biologically female singer is...?

Discuss. (And don't gimme any of that Brandi Carlisle shit, because I don't wanna hear it.)

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, March 02, 2023

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special "Literary Notes From All Over" Edition

So as attentive readers are aware, I've decided to spend a great deal of my time this year compiling -- for publication in some format to be determined -- an anthology of my prose Greatest Hits. Here's a review I just rediscovered (from the July 1973 issue of CREEM) that will doubtless be included.

Mother's Pride

Germaine Greer once observed that what the Women's Lib movement needed most was a distaff band that could lay down "a really heavy riff." Now regardless of whether or not you agree with that statement (about which more later) I am saddened to report that only the most cant-ridden female chauvinist could make such claims for Fanny and her All Girl Orchestra, at least on the basis of this latest collection of hot numbers. Saddened because there were moments on some of their other albums where they came reasonably close; stuff like "Charity Ball" and "Ain't That Peculiar" may not have had the capacity to destroy minds, but they were at least solid, enjoyable rock and roll, played with real spunk. But Mother's Pride is pretty much of a dud, despite (or maybe because of) producer Todd Rundgren's feverish attempt at making the whole thing sound as much like Abbey Road as possible. Somebody (I forget who) once said that if Fanny were men they'd be playing in bars, and this is the album that definitively proves the truth of that. Of course, there are plenty of musical macho types that have achieved vinyl immortality these days who should be playing in bars also, but that ain't much of a consolation.

Anyway, given that the vast bulk of the record buying audience is comprised of women (you don't think adolescent boys are shelling out dough for Donny Osmond records, do ya?) it seems almost futile for a group like Fanny to try to achieve stardom merely by competing with men at their own game; what they should be doing is inventing a whole new one, and I don't mean pursuing a really heavy riff. Rock and roll is as much an attitude as a music and what we really need is a female band that projects an attitude, a lifestyle, a militant man-eating sexiness. American men being the masochists that they are, I bet four dazzlingly glamorous tough chicks playing aggressive high-energy rock could absolutely clean up. Certainly, they would do more for the Lib movement than Fanny's wistfully depressing obsession with proving they're good musicians. Imagine, if you will, a female MC5 or Rolling Stones. I mean guys would be creaming in the aisles.

Meanwhile, I have decided -- regardless of all this -- that since Fanny drummer Alice de Buhr got her hair cut, she's become one of the all-time cuties. My number is Beechwood 4-5789, Alice. You can call me up for a date any old time.

Yeah, yeah, I know -- I'd probably (and justifiably) be ridden out of town on a rail if I wrote something like that today, but what the hell -- it was the early 70s and we were all a little over the top.

In any case, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© will be awarded to the first reader who guesses its relavance to the theme of tomorrow's end-of-week essay question.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Songs I'd Forgotten I Loved (An Occasional Series): Special "The Golden Age of Electric Keyboards" Edition

From 1965, please enjoy the great but semi-obscure Beatles track "Tell Me What You See."

BTW, that's one of the rare Fab four numbers that we Yanks heard earlier than our former colonial masters -- it came out here (on the only-in-America Beatles VI) in June, while in England it didn't arrive (on the Help soundtrack) until August. As to why it's so generally overlooked is beyond me; it strikes me as sublimely Buddy Holly-ish, and that recurring piano solo is to die for.

I should add that said solo is performed (by Paul) on a Hohner Pianet; you can find pictures and more info about that remarkable instrument at Wiki OVER HERE.